Mehluli Taz Moyo and Willis Wataffi have over the last couple of years been at pains to explain that Afrika Revenge was now a thing of the past in different press reports. It was not the media that caused their split in the first instance.
What I know with groups, for example the legendary Beatles who provided the soundtrack for Young Love and Rebellion alongside the Rolling Stones in the ’60, there comes a time when ego gets in the way. A whisper here and a fawning press report there, the whole group thing can go belly up. Artistes are generally not very humble. Hubris smothers them way more than the average Joe.
Thus you find that they are mostly in what a famous psychologist calls the thug position: I am OK you are not OK (translate: I am better than you).
In the Beatles’ case, women presumably got in the way of brotherly love and camaraderie. Women, I dare say, have been at the centre of serious blood feuds in the history of mankind.
There is something about women that sets men off . . . or up! Think about the Taj Mahal in India or Napoleon’s craving for Josephine’s love and affirmation. There were rumours that our boys had also been split up by a woman.
When I interviewed Wataffi a few years back while writing for a financial weekly’s lifestyle section, he would not intimate to me the real reason for the split except to say that he was a fully-fledged artiste in his own right who apparently was the writer of the group’s hits such as Wanga and Anochengeta.
In short, he could make it on his own. I surmised at the time that the late Tendai Mupfurutsa patronage of the group went away and helped precipitate the duo’s split.
Pop bands split all the time.
When Afrika Revenge split, many music fans probably thought that it was the end of a reign. Band splits come with the territory of popular culture. Zimbabwean super group Ilanga, which also originating from KoBulawayo went the same way.
Ilanga was just ridiculously star-studded. You had Don Gumbo, a prodigy on bass, vocals and songwriting, Andy Brown on rhythm guitar/lead, Keith Farqurson on keyboards, Adam Chisvo on congas and Busi Ncube on vocals and song writing.
All these went out and reached varying degrees of success. Don had a stint in South Africa and churned out some commendable hits such as Joy, Love and Happiness. Busi went on form the band Rain. Adam Chisvo joined Chioniso Maraire and toured as part of her act.
Keith Farqurson is a big producer down South producing groups such as Freshly Ground. Andy Brown went on to form Storm which can be said to have been one of the bigger bands of the ’90s era before Tuku cemented his position as the king of Zimbabwean music.
I remember Andy Brown appearing on television and being interviewed by one of the Munyati brothers. It was either the late Mike or Nigel.
Tichangoshaina reigned supreme and for a long moment Andy was the man. He even had Chi and Prudence Katomeni backing alongside the late Mwendi Chibindi. I also remember interviewing Andy and getting the distinct feeling that here was an artiste who was better off shining his own light and strutting on his own stage.
In Ilanga he had been just the side man much like Jermaine Jackson to Michael Jackson in the family band.
Biggie Tembo, Rise Kagona, Washington Kavhayi, Kenny Chitsvatsva and Kuda Matimba also split with devastating outcomes. They never tasted the heady fame of their Wembley Stadium days backing country superstar Don Williams and Madonna.
By some accounts, the charismatic Biggie Tembo was getting too much of the attention as the lead singer of Bhundu Boys. He was asked to leave circa 1990.
There were also allegations that their split was over money matters compounded by an allegedly tricky manager in Gordon Muir a Scottish graphic artiste. Biggie Tembo, being the more enlightened of the crew, was probably asking too many questions.
I knew mukoma Rise Kagona personally because he was from my hood and I know too that he was the founder of the group at a local Area E community centre in the township of Mufakose where youngsters watched them practise. He had not gone very far with his schooling though being a brilliant lead guitarist. Back in those days musicians were not famous for going to school.
Sometimes some groups are better off splitting up. Fans get to benefit from the formation of new musical entities based on the former band members. Popular music lore is replete with such tales.
Sometimes again, some groups are better off sticking it out.
The Jackson Five also spilt up and Michael Jackson went on to make the musical careers of his brothers almost irrelevant. To this day, we all know that the Beatles whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
In other words, they should have just stuck it out for if being huge was what it was all about, then as individual artistes, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison never made it back to the top. Their contemporaries the Rolling Stones, still turn in millions of pounds whenever they decide to tour and they fill up stadiums some 40 or 50 years down the stupendous line!
Welcome back boys
Extrapolating, musical artistes are susceptible to diva tantrums, messianic complexes, ego trips, leeches (groupies and hangers on including drug pushers), booze, and such other vices induced by delusions of grandeur. Overseas, the pop star lifestyle is one of indulgence and possible decadence. It is also one of incredible power and opportunity.
Locally, our artistes must contend with the grim reality that though they may be celebrated by fans today, they may soon find out that they are the very fodder of tabloid writers looking to score some cheap career points via a scandalous story.
Moreover, there is not much money lying around anyway to pamper our artistes. In the main, the job of a musician must be viewed in terms of being a job like any other. One must consider the job as more important than the personalities one doesn’t like.
How many people out there like their workmates? Point is, one doesn’t have to like his workmates, but one must work with them to succeed! Welcome back Afrika Revenge.